Short Story 

Messages from the Afterlife

The Vicious Circle, the Whistler Writers’ Group, in conjunction with Celebration 2010: Whistler Arts Festival 2005, will be hosting Literary Leanings 2005, a literary gala on Feb. 20th and 21st. The gala will be held at Uli’s Flipside. Starting at 8 p.m. each night, local authors will share the stage with a number of professional writers from around British Columbia including Arthur Black, George Bowering, Bill Gaston, and Aislinn Hunter. Food, drink and open mic will be provided.

Whistler writers include Stella Harvey, founder of the Vicious Circle, as well as members Stephen Vogler, Brandi Higgins, Lisa Richardson, Pam Barnsley, Rebecca Wood Barrett and Sara Leach. In anticipation of the gala, Pique Newsmagazine will print the stories (fiction and non-fiction) that will be read by the Whistler based writers during the gala.

 

Messages from the Afterlife

We bought a church, my partner and I. A renovator, with character. (Pink and aqua paint scheme, floorboards rotting away at the entrance, sun-warped shingles that fly off in thunderstorms, layers of dust that trigger prospective vendors’ allergies. In short, a firesale). Cue jokes about lightning strikes, blasphemy, sex on the altar, David Koresh. But the most common question, after ‘can I have a stained glass window’: ‘is it haunted?’

***

Our tenant suspects so. She lives in the finished half of the building, while we prepare ourselves, amongst plywood floors and plastic sheeting, for phase 2. She wakes up at 3 a.m. Her stereo has suddenly come on: the luminous green of the LCD glows across the room. Heart slamming, as though her slumbering soul has been snapped back into her body like a violent bungee, she switches it off, resists the urge to cross herself.

She visits a psychic.

"Tell me about the little red church," she asks.

"Don’t do it," warns the psychic.

"It’s too late. I moved in a month ago."

"I see a fire," says the woman.

We talk to our insurance broker.

***

Lisa’s boss lives in a priory, outside Gravesend, in England.

It’s called Gravesend because that’s where they dumped the bodies, in mass graves, during the plague. Too many bodies and not enough time to dig individual plots. A bucket of lime and away you go.

The priory is haunted. This is a known fact, recorded in travel guides and history books. Someone has researched the ghosts of Kent, and interviewed previous tenants from the heritage-listed building. Her boss gets a kick out of this macabre fame, but Lisa thinks it’s so he has some company apart from his witch of a wife.

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